Responding to a Facebook or Twitter ad? Click here.

Part 2 of a 3 Part Series
Making Business News Newsworthy:

photo of typing on a keyboard

Subscribe to this blog in the right column’s blog feed subscription box.

In part 1, readers learned how to determine if business news really is news. Click here to view part one.

Part 2: Writing a Capturing News Release

  • Write a release for the public not your company
  • Adhere to the Associated Press Stylebook writing standards
  • Hit readers over the head with a shocking or punchy lead
  • KISS your release, Keep It Simple Stupid
  • Releases should specific to media outlet specialties

Writing Releases for the Public Not Your Company

The best way to explain this is to show an example with comparisons. Below is an example of a lead written with the company in mind:

Anderson Parks is proud to announce the grand opening of its newest park, Green Park, on Sept. 12 at 11 a.m. at 2222 Greenway Circle. This marks a park accomplishment for the department in providing more green space without additional staffing costs.

Below is a better take on the same news keeping readers and news reporters in mind:

Residents and visitors will appreciate Green Park, the newest park in Anderson, Fla., because the park’s preserve will provide an up close experience with a number of wildlife including 42 species of birds. On Sept. 12 at 11 a.m., the Anderson Parks Department will host a grand opening for Green Park located at 2222 Greenway Circle.

The second release told the benefits to the reader of the new park up front, whereas the first lead patted the company on the back. Big difference! The media should be able to copy and paste your news release, and when is the last time a newspaper lead a story with text supporting a company?

Adhere to Associated Press Stylebook Writing Standards

The Associated Press (AP) Stylebook acts as a basic guideline for media writing and make it easier for media to use your releases as written. Highlights of those standards are:

  • Numbers are spelled out one to nine
  • Numbers 10 and above use numerals or a combination thereof
  • Months are spelled out if not used with specific dates
  • Abbreviate Jan. Feb. Aug. Sept. Oct. Nov. Dec. if used with specific dates such as Sept. 1, 2010
  • State abbreviations are specific such as Florida is Fla.
  • Abbreviate St., Blvd., Ave. if with the numeric portion of an address such as 2121 Langly Blvd.

More AP writing rules are answered on the Associated Press website. For immediate online access to the AP Stylebook, click here.

Hit Readers Over the Head With Punch Leads

An over-the-top lead can work, but is not for every news release. An example of one that works:

Imagine for a moment a man is flying through your neighborhood wearing a bright red cape and gold leotard, just as you are outside looking up wondering if there is any way to save your home from foreclosure. Kissimmee, Fla. realtor Paul Antonelli is claiming to be a superhero that will help homeowners get out of trouble.

Clearly, this realtor is not a superhero, but playing off the radio show’s superhero logo sets this press release apart. What is not appropriate as a “punchy” lead is: “Shelter X announces it will euthanize 400 animals this week, if more people do not adopt.” That would prompt people to adopt for the wrong reasons. Be clear with your lead what you are calling readers to do.

KISS Your Release, Keep It Simple Stupid

Most of us fail to follow this very basic writing rule. In a press release, do not include every single detail. Highlight important facts including the who, what, when and where of the news item.

Drive readers to websites or social media sites to connect with you and learn more there.

For contests or deadline-oriented news, always, always, always send out at least three press releases starting four to six weeks in advance.

The first press release of four for Challenge to Change, a weight loss contest with cosmetic surgery as the grand prize, provides basic sign up information and a lot of details.

Subsequent releases will be briefer focusing on contest benefits and deadlines to increase media exposure.

Releases Should Be Specific to Media Outlet Specialties

If you are sending press release to a children’s magazine, the writing should be softer and generally child-focused. The Superhero Realtor press release above, for example would need rewritten as:

Kissimmee-based Realtor Paul Antonelli is hoping his new radio show will save children and families from becoming homeless by providing assistance to families in danger of home foreclosure.

If a magazine you want to have your news published in does not publish long articles, then it may be best to send a personal email to a writer at the magazine instead. This may get you further than a press release.

The final part of the 3-part series for Making Your Business News Newsworthy covers: How to Send a Press Release. If you have questions, click this link to email DREAMFly Marketing.


read more

Responding to a Facebook or Twitter ad? Click here.

Part 1 of a 3 Part Series
Making Business News Newsworthy:

This 3 part series will be published over 4 weeks, so make sure to subscribe so you receive a full picture view of how to successfully make your business newsworthy.

PART 1: Learning What is Newsworthy

I can promise you there is only rule to obtaining media coverage:Make your business’s accomplishment newsworthy.

Most of you believe you can accomplish that one task easily, but you are mistaken. In fact, most business owners and managers are so close to the business, they tend to think every accomplishment is newsworthy.  If that’s true, why aren’t news reporters pounding down your door? As a marketing professional for 11 years and former television reporter and freelance journalist (1998-2004), I will provide you with some solid, easy to follow tips on how to turn your regular business updates into news flashes.

4 questions to gauge if your news is really news:

  1. Is it controversial or does it have interest for others outside your regular customers?
  2. Does it benefit the community or a group of people positively or negatively?
  3. Will it prompt comments or discussion within the community?
  4. Should anyone care except you (the owner)?

To be controversial or not to be

Controversy good and bad believe it or not will produce news and very often it has been said bad news coverage can actually be good news coverage. The exception to this rule would be extremely bad news that has an adverse effect on the population such as BP’s oil spill.

A good example of bad news that prompted bad and good news coverage and helped a company is Tylenol’s recall some years ago that actually improved company sales.

To benefit the community or not to benefit

If your business’s news will help others in the community or prove interesting, then it might be newsworthy. For example, if Shoney’s or Perkins offered free meals for a full week to anyone that would be newsworthy, because during these economic times many families are struggling to feed themselves.

What would NOT be newsworthy is a story about a park throwing a community open house to connect people with services. Why not you ask? Because there is no wow factor – it’s just an event.Another newsworthy “benefit” story example is if a fitness trainer were to say give away $5,000 to the biggest loser for a weight loss competition in a city rated at the top of the obesity or unhealthy lists.

News that prompts community comments good and bad

Remember this above all else. Even if people are outraged at your news, (maybe you are closing a factory or raising prices) news coverage is still news coverage.  Very often, outrage can route right back around into solid, good news about your business.

Many businesses fear bad media coverage as a result of a negative announcement. You CANNOT CONTROL WHAT THE MEDIA WRITES. What you can control is what you say and how you say it.

Example: local park where I live had some employees leave a special needs teen in a hot car for a couple of hours purely by accident – media was all over it – but the park system handled it brilliantly by investigating the incident, temporarily suspending employees, meeting with the teen’s parents and honestly answering the media’s questions.  Controversial news became “what the park did right” news.

Should anyone care about the news but you?

Sure your new tanning beds, your new car washing services or your restaurant’s new dish may be interesting to you, but who else really cares about it unless you give them a reason to care?

If you want to send out a press release to give your business a pat on the back, you are not going to get media coverage.

Examples of stories that made news because people cared:

  • Collier County animal shelter announced a potential end to pet adoptions if the budget was cut
  • A state announces increases to sales or income taxes
  • Oil drilling off Florida shores

General examples of what is newsworthy in today’s news climate:

  • A business closing after being open for more than 30 years
  • A business laying off people, even if it’s fewer than 10
  • Businesses offering discounts or day of free service for unemployed
  • Free gift or prize without purchase
  • Food giveaways
  • New business or expansion of a business in this economic turmoil
  • Animals – always news regardless
  • Kids – always news if it has to do with helping them, raising money or special needs children

Use the above as a guide to identify where your news falls – on the floor or hits the paper?

Part 1 is long but it is important to understand what makes news, before moving on to Part 2: Writing a Capturing Press Release.


read more

Responding to a Facebook or Twitter ad? Click here.

 

Business is a Marriage and It’s Time to Treat it Like it!

 

How many friends have you heard complaining their partner doesn’t pay enough attention to them or their marriage is struggling? Everyone knows at least one person from which they’ve heard these exact complaints.

Frankly, let’s face it sometimes partners refuse counseling. So a spouse or couple heads to the Internet of all places to find solutions like Marriage Makeover Manual to Mend Your Marriage a book by Kara Oh, who CBS News has recognized as the Heart Whisperer. Oh’s book dives into saving a marriage in just 30 days with real eye-opening changes.

So, if we can find marriage solutions on the web, why aren’t we doing a better job of finding solutions for our businesses online?

Simple – most of us don’t understand where to start.

Many of us have mastered how to post a tweet or Facebook update, but few of us actually know how to drive traffic to our websites by using social media. Here are some great ways to get started or to see your efforts through to the next level - Social Media Marketing 101:

  • Twitter Rockstar: This Twitter goody in plain terms shows you how to target followers by the thousands; advanced Twitter marketing tactics
  • Social Connect Blueprint: A great blog with both free and paid webinars and step-by-step how to’s for great social media success

Twitter Rockstar tells you how to use the communication online medium to actually grow your business. It’s reasonably priced at $47 and is easy to understand.

Twitter Rockstar focuses on helping freelancers, entrepeneurs and small to medium businesses without a tech savvy staff. You’ll learn how to develop targeted business leads with the system’s step-by-step book that shows examples and it provides you DVDs so you can follow along.

Social Connect Blueprint is an interactive blog online that provides both free and paid services including webinars guiding you through the often chaotic and tough to understand world of Niche marketing online. What’s great about Social Connect Blueprint is that it really is a map to the online world and provides daily tips. It’s a go-at-your-own-pace option.

A favorite $39 investment by far is Autopilot Tweet. But a word of caution, if you have taken the time to read Twitter’s spam rules you should not be using this or any other auto-tweet or friend-finder tool – there are limits and rules. With Autopilot Tweet you save time and your fingers from aching trying to find friends by doing simple follows using keywords. It’ll do it all for you!

Autopilot Tweet is affordable, and is a steal for what it does….saves you time.

Even my 63-year-old father finally got on the social media bandwagon and is seeing real results. But, don’t fail your business by just creating an account. You must put in some effort, and I vote for letting the aforementioned links do some of the work for you!

Happy blogging!


read more

Recommend Us On Google

This blog will cover three keys to opening your own business:

  1. Naming Your Business: How to Choose a Name
  2. Logo Creation: Necessary or not?

Naming Your Business: How to Choose a Name

We all like to be creative especially when we are passionate about something such as opening up our own business, but how do you choose the name of a business?

You would think you would just choose items or words you like and it would be simple, right? Wrong! Aside from finding a name that you like, you have to find a name that is not copyrighted, trademarked or taken on the web if you want to have a web site – otherwise you could be in for an uphill battle.

For example, my name is Camden Smith and I wanted to name my business Camden Communications, but it was already trademarked and the domain was taken so clearly choosing that name would have created unnecessary road blocks to building my business.

First, to find a name you should build a word list of words you like that describe how you feel about your company or how you want customers to feel. Choose words that give a visual picture.

Once you have words you like start combining them with a term that describes your business such as inspection, marketing or whatever activity/service your business provides. The name has to be creative but it has to be understood.

My marketing firm, which I just opened, is called DREAMFly Marketing, but I didn’t arrive at that name willingly. I started with DREAMFly Design and Communication, but quickly learned on LinkedIn that some people thought communication referred to cell phone sales or telemarketing.

After you have two or three business names in the running, then you must search to see if the business is trademarked. To do this, you can search on www.trademarkia.com and you may also apply there for a trademark. The way around these big trademark fees is to copyright the business name in your state.

The last thing you have to do before deciding to officially launch your business is search www.godaddy.com or another web site sales site and see if the url you would need for a web site is actually available. If it is not available, you may need to rethink the name you have your heart set on. Clearly, www.dreamflydesignandcommuncation.com would have been a ridiculous web address.

So, you’ve named your business now. How does it sound? Strong? Passive? Aggressive? How do you want customers to feel about your business and what do you want them to picture in their minds when they hear the name?

Ask friends what they think about your business name and ask them what picture they have in their head when they hear the name. You will know if you’ve chosen the right name.

I asked probably 20 people what they thought about DREAMFly Marketing and every single person said they had the visual picture of flying to their dreams – bingo! Choosing a company name that describes what you do is just as important as one that creates a positive picture in people’s minds.

Logo Creation: Necessary or Not

Without a logo your business name will very simply look like letterhead

Who will that appeal to? If you are doing a business like pet sitting out of your home, you may think it isn’t necessary to have a logo, but if you plan on advertising and designing a web site and business cards, you should have a graphic design that is consistent in all of your marketing work.

You can pay $199 or more for a logo design and trust me you get what you pay for…but it really depends on what kind of logo you need. As a marketing professional, I suggest you use your best judgment – a logo may be something you can wait on whereas applying for a TAX ID and an Limited Liability Corporation application is something that must be immediate.

Although my marketing firm handles graphic design for advertising and brochures, we are not a logo design company. Do not make the mistake of thinking you are a logo designer if you are in fact not a logo designer. This could in fact hurt your business. Most clip art cannot be used in a logo legally.

I personally like www.logonerds.com, because the price is right and the designs don’t use tons of clipart but maintians a rich 3D feel to them. Another good site is www.logomojo.com, but the prices are more expensive ($199) for the same amount of work from Logo Nerds ($68). Choose what is right for the company look you want and need and the price that fits your budget.

How You Plan Determines Your Success

Starting a business is the simple part, but marketing it to clients is challenging. Always remember you start marketing your business, the minute you start thinking about developing it, because you are talking to friends and family about it and contacting other professionals for advice.

Choose a strong, understandable name that can be trademarked and set up as a web site. Make sure to create a logo so that it sets you apart….the rest is up to you. I hope my lessons in this process help you make great choices. Please share this people you feel this may help.

You are welcome to email me at Camden@Dreamflymarketing.com.


read more